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tv   The Last Word  MSNBC  February 6, 2012 10:00pm-11:00pm EST

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>> will ferrell's appearance is an automatic candidate for the best new thing in the world today. it makes will ferrell in his latest spot for old milwaukee the best thing in the world today. don't forget, you can watch me saturdays at 7:00 a.m. now it's time for the last word with lawrence o'donnell. have grate night. well, it's halftime in america, and the score is obama 51 and romney 45. >> it is halftime in america. >> it's halftime in america. >> it's halftime, america. >> halftime! >> as we watched ket clint eastwood's halftime sfot for chrysler last night. >> detroit is showing us it can be done, and what's true about them is true about all of us. >> we couldn't help but picture
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the obama and romney teams. >> you could say it's the obama re-election campaign. >> there was this president that said let's save the auto industry. >> romney ran the op ed piece saying don't bail them out. >> mitt romney was against bailing out the auto industry. >> none other than karl rove went on fox today. he was frankly offended by the clint eastwood ad. >> these guys are essentially attacking the american auto workers. >> it is a sign of what happens when you have chicago-style politics. >> the communities and people that brought that industry back. >> our second half is is about to begin. >> the bright new start for our current president. >> in a new washington post poll he trails the president. >> the most troubling for mitt romney may be the likability question. >> the gop has a problem with enthusiasm. >> romney doesn't have any big ideas. >> you know, on earth they thought the idea of student janitors was crazy. >> there's no big piece of
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policy he's putting forward. there is more energy in the republican party for not mitt romney than for mitt romney. he's not a good candidate. >> we see that quote from ann coulter. >> if chris christie doesn't ren, romney will be the one. >> so how good do things have to be going for president obama? for bill o'reilly to say this. >> all right. so at this point president obama, i think we can say, is more confident. his game is up. the polls are up for him, and the republicans are still kind of flushing it out, what's going to happen. >> that was bill o'reilly earlier tonight on his show, a night when you'd think that fox news would be trumpeting the mitt romney triumph in nevada this weekend. they hold the republican primaries in saturday, and after a break fwoet on and watch the
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super bowl, they actually finished counting the votes this morning. you have to wonder what took nevada so long, since only 2.5% of nevada registered voters showed up to vote. the 32,000 votes were split this way. romney won with 50% of that vote. that little vote. gingrich was second with 21%, ron paul was third with 19%, and rick santorum finished fourth with only 10% of a very small vote. republican turnout was dramatically lower than it was four years ago, and this in the state of tea party rage that produced the hopeless tea party candidacy of sharon engel for senate in 2010, thereby guaranteeing senator harry reid's re-election. there is a demeanted ego maniac who believes he can explain everything that happened in nevada this weekend and, no, his namt is not newt gingrich.
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>> well, i thought it was important to come out sometime when there was a lot of depth. there was a lot riding on that particular race in nevada, and it was interesting because the numbers were much, much greater than he thought and a lot of people are giving me credit for that. i will accept that credit. >> donald doesn't do much homework, you see, so he doesn't seem to know that mitt romney got fewer votes this weekend in nevada compared to four years ago. when without the burden of a trump endorsement, mitt romney actually got 37% more votes. polls now show he rick santorum springing into a lead in tomorrow's minnesota caucus and missouri's primary. that explains why the romney campaign for the first time ever picked a fight with little rick santorum today. >> rick santorum, i think, will do well in minnesota, but as will mitt. i think they'll have strong
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showings. none of the records of these candidates are perfect, but mitt romney aesz record is a conservative record. mitt is holding himself out as the only real conservative in the race. when you look at his record, it's not by a long shot. >> anytime someone challenges governor romney, governor romney goes out instead of talking about what he's for, which is what i did today, he just simply goes out and attacks and tries to destroy. i don't think it's going to work this time. >> but in the most important poll out today, the one with some predictive value about who is the next president, president obama leads mitt romney by his widest margin yet. president obama stands at 51% in the poll to romney's 45%. the most important internal in that poll is that 52% of americans say the more they hear about romney, the less they like
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him. 24% of americans say the more they hear about romney, the more they like him. joining me now from las vegas, las vegas sun columnist and host of face to face, john rolston and from washington, "washington post" columnist and msnbc contributor jonathan kapart. thank you for joining me tonight. john, in the center of it all in las vegas, here you are in the state that produced sharon engel, just the angriest manifestation of the tea party possibly tied with christine o'donnell last time around to actually reach a ballot position in a general election against a democrat. what has happened in nevada since then, especially the in the republican party, where they're so kind of relaxed about you how things are going in washington that they don't show up to vote? >> well, i think there's a lot of buyer's remorse and bitterness about what happened
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with sharon engel, as you point out, lawrence. the tea party which was never really cohesive is more fragmented and maybe dissolved in some ways since they're a highlight of 2010 in nominating sharon engel not realizing what a disaster that was going to be. they cannot spin this turnout number, 33,000, 11,000 less than in 2008. remember in 2008 there was absolutely no race here whatsoever. romney was the only one who campaigned here. here you have the last week. all the candidates were here. they were doing a lot of events, and this is the kind of turnout they get. they can't spin their way out of this. >> jonathan, you can look into the mind of donald trump and tell us what he's thinking when he tried to take credit for everything that happened in nevada this weekend, which he doesn't seem to understand arit mattically is less than what happened in nevada last time for mitt romney. >> but that doesn't matter.
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for mr. trump, he went out there, and he was in nevada. he endorsed mitt romney. mitt romney, who everyone knew would win the nevada caucuses, won. mr. trump has decided that he's going to jump onto mitt romney's coattails and ride it for as long as he can. i don't know the context of even why he decided to thump his chest over this, but this is donald trump. this is donald trump being donald trump. i'm not surprised. actually, i was a little tickled to hear him take credit for mitt romney's win, when you may recall, lawrence, that was probably the shortest donald trump press conference ever. >> yeah. it really was. clearly the romneys do not want to be on the stage with that guy. john rolston, as i think you and i would expect, donald trump did
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not put his money where his mouth is. there's newt gingrich getting $5 million from adelson, the casino operator in las vegas, and another $5 million from mrs. adelson. so far the romney campaign has cashed exactly zero from donald trump. i've challenged trump today on twitter. if he's so rich and can afford it, and i know he can't, let me see him match adelson in a contribution to the romney super-pac. let's see the $5 million go from trump to the romney super-pack, if he actually really is backing romney and more importantly if he actually has, yori don't kno one-tenth of the money he claims he has. >> i was worried in the intro there when you said demeanted egomaniac was going to tell you what happened in nevada. i thought that was an intro to me, lawrence. i'm glad to see it wasn't.
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>> john, john, as long as there is a donald trump, you're going to look very good in nevada standing next to him. >> that's not much of a compliment, either. i was sa stounded to see those comments from trump. as jonathan points out and you pointed out, what reality is he living in? he's not living in a reality when he gives the money sheldon aadelson has given and probably will give more to the republicans, not necessarily to the super-pac. the lot of people giving you credit are one place, and that's inside his head, as you know, lawrence. >> john, the poll on romney is saying the more we get to know him, the more we it dislike him, a sxwloort. that is the most overwhelmingly negative polling fact i have ever seen about a running candidate for president. >> it really is incredible, and it's not like, you know, mitt
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romney has not done anything to help feed the impression that he's someone who is unlikeable. what, last week was i'm not concerned about very poor people. the week before that it was why am i not thinking of it? we all know all of his sort of silver foot in mouth comments where he sort of displays this really -- this tone-deafness that, you know, for all -- everything that he says, if you listen to it in context, it makes sense. there's a reasonable way to argue the point of view he's getting across. it just comes out in a way that you just sit -- you think a lot of american people sit back and look and think this is a guy from the 1%. he is the 1%. he has no idea what my life is like. he can't even figure out a way to talk to me that isn't
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condescending or submissive. he gives me an example pretty much every other day, so why should i like the guide. >> what are the odds romney will continue to save those things since they come from the reality of his life, which is economically and socially he's been cut off at an extreme from that vast range of american people and the american voters he's hoping to appeal to? >> you know, everyone refers to him as a robotic candidate, but once in a while there's this glitch in his programming, and as jonathan points out, even if what he's saying might actually be reasonable, the way he's saying it and what the democrats are most greeful about is romney is going to be defending these and saying what i meant to say. what you run a campaign as what i meant to say, that's why the numbers are going up and that's why the democrats are thrilled. >> quickly, jonathan, with the
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polling coming out on the president and even bill orely saying things are in a place where the president can be confident, the obama campaign has to feel more confident these days than several months ago. >> they were more confident than during the debt ceiling fight in august. i will say this. i do that within the obama campaign in obama world, they're not letting these good poll numbers or even the good jobs numbers from friday cloud the fact that they're in for a very tough re-election fight, and that they just hope that the momentum and the direction that things are going continue to go that way. if they do, the president more than likely will win re-election. >> all right. as long as we're still in a vegas mood, i'm keeping my bet on president obama to win at least 51% of that vote. john, columnist for the las vegas sun and msnbc contributor jonathan kapart,
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thank you for joining me tonight. >> thanks, lawrence. >> coming up, the amazing reversal r fortune for planned parenthood as the susan g. komen foundation reverses the decision. she made her first appearance here last week to discuss that crisis with the komen foundation and she returns tonight. the most controversial super bowl ad did not have a scantily clad supermodel, instead an 81-year-old actor is being attacked for veiled support for obama, even though that actor, clint eastwood, was a republican. that's next. in the rewrite tonight, the ugliest and stupidest political ad made without an actress who was willing to demean her own consults tur. culture. what is this shorty? uh, tissues sir, i'm sick. you don't cough, you don't show defeat. give me your war face! raaah! [ male announcer ] halls. a pep talk in every drop.
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after winning the super bowl the giants will get to meet president obama at the white house.
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meanwhile, the patriots will get to meet newt gingrich at the waffle house, which is just as cool. ♪
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filmmaking ever done. the super bowl ads. >> all that matters now is what's ahead, how do we come from behind. how do we come together? how do we win? detroit's showing us it can be done, and what's true about them is true about all of us. this country can't be knocked out in one punch. we get right back up again, and when we do, the world's going to hear the roar of our engines. yeah. it's halftime, america. and our second half's about to begin. >> that ad starring clint eastwood generated the third most twitter traffic on sunday's super bowl ads, and it provoked this it reaction from karl rove on fox news today. >> i was frankly offended. i'm a huge fan of clint eastwood, and i thought it was extremely well-done. it's a sign of what happens when
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you have chicago style politics and the president of united states and his political minimum ons are using our tax dollars to buy corporate advertisements and the best wishes of the management, which is benefitted by getting a bunch of money they'll never pay back. >> rove then carried his hurt feelings to shaun hannity's radio show this afternoon. >> look, i agree with the concept in the ad. it would have been all well and good if the president's people has not gone out there and said this is all about politics, and this is a statement of how our decision -- policy decision to bail out the auto up companies were great. >> clint eastwood gave this statement to bill o'reilly. >> i want to say the spin stops with you guys. there's no spin in that ad. i'm certainly not politically affiliated with mr. obama. it was meant to be a message about job growth in the spirit of america. i think all politicians will agree with it. chrysler didn't even have cars in the ad. anything they gave me went to
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charity, and if obama or any other politician wants to run with spirit of the ad, i say go for it. >> it provoked at least one member of the white house press corps to waste a question to jay carney today. >> did the white house or the campaign have any role in the creation of that ad or advising of that ad or consulting on the ad? >> no. >> joining me now is msnbc political analyst and former dnc communications director karen finney. karen, bill o'reilly defended his pal, clint eastwood, on the show tonight all the wachlt actually kind of took the position that he really didn't see the political argument against the ad. i have to tell you, i was halfway through watching that ad thinking, wait a minute. the dnc cannot afford this. this is a super bowl ad. how can they pay for this? i actually, i think, o'reilly and i are in a reversed role tonight. i do see a political
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interpretation available in this ad of a political message about the auto bailout. >> you know, i don't. when i saw that ad, i felt it was very pro-american. it kind of gave me chills because who doesn't love clint eastwood, this great american icon? i thought the ad was a lot more about the strength of our country and our workers and our will, essentially, that you may knock us down, but we will get right back up. what i thought was interesting about the way the republicans chose to play this, although this is how they've been playing this game from the beginning, was by den grading the ad they're suggesting that the victory that we've steen in the auto industry does not belong to those workers, those people who did the work of bringing the auto industry back. this is a problem that the republicans have, right? they're so blinded by how much they just hate barack obama and want to defeat him, they, a, i
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think missed an opportunity where they could haveco-oped had this ad and talked about the workers and sort of ignored the auto bailout piece if they wanted to. b, they're now in this position of essentially rooting against america's recovery, and i don't think that's going to play well in the election. >> yeah. everyone once in a while something can happen that you think is political that you actually are better off not complaining about. i mean, even if they think what they think, they should have stayed quiet. karen, i want to read you something that clint eastwood said on november 7th, 2011 in the "los angeles times." i'm a big hawk on cutting the deficit. we shouldn't bail out the banks and car companies. if a ceo can't make his company profitable, he shouldn't be the ceo. there's clint eastwood on the auto bailout thinking it was a bad idea as recently as november 2011. by that time it was clear that it had worked. >> that's exactly right. by the way, thz as you know, the
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former republican mayor of carmel, california. in 1988 george bush actually considered adding clint eastwood to the ticket. so, you know, they're essentially attacking their own, which they've been perfectly happy to do this whole primary season. again, i think it shows a level of desperation that i think can turn back on them in a way they have a tin ear to. that is, again, that essentially their attack sounds like they're attacking american workers, and that sounds very anti-american to me. you and i were talking about this the night of the state of the union where we both thought the president's speech was a good speech, positive speech. yet, they attack him consistently for being anti-american. here's the president that's the guy cheering for american, rooting for america saying yes, we can. they're the ones attacking pro-america ads and attacking an american republican icon essentially because they're so hate red-filled for obama.
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>> karen, i know you don't want to give add stris to the republican party, but i'm going to do it. i have to tell you do not pick a fight with clint eastwood. don't do that. msnbc political analyst karen finney, thank you very much for joining us tonight. >> thanks. >> coming up, the stunning reversal by the susan g. komen foundation on planned parenthood funding. cecile richards will join me. will anyone now be fired? coming up in the rewrite tonight, the worst ad that we have seen in this political season, and i have a message for actors and their participation, the responsibility that they have to bring to their participation in political advertising. that's in the rewrite tonight. nyquil (st uffy
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we've seen the worst campaign ad of this season using a chinese actress to demean her culture. in the rewrite tonight i'll tell you how this kind of advertising can be stopped and how hollywood can stop it. next, people inside the susan g. komen foundation are starting to whisper about how the decision was made to defund planned parenthood, a decision that they have now dramatically reversed. cecile richards of planned
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after the susan g. komen foundation on friday backed down on the decision not to fund breast cancer screening at pland parenthood clinics, the spotlight is on the person that created the controversy. karen handle, komen's senior vice president of public policy, developed the new grant guidelines with the sole purpose of getting rid of planned par t parentho parenthood. she first pledged to defund planned parenthood after the failed run for georgia governor. now komen said the pressure is mounting for her to resign. planned parenthood on the other hand raising more than $3 million last week for breast cancer screenings as a direct result of the shutdown in funding from the komen foundation. joining me now is planned
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parenthood federation of america president cecile richards. cecile, i was tempted to call this your triumphant return to the place where you began talking about this on television last week. there's nothing triumphant about this. this is a horrible mess. how comfortable are you now with where planned parenthood stands with the komen foundation going forward not just on meeting the commitments that had already been pledged but going forward into the future years? >> i feel very good, lawrence, and you're right. this is a real long week, but we feel very good about the relationship with the komen foundation, very grateful they changed their minds working with planned parenthood. already at the local level komen foundation folks and planned parenthood doctors and clinicians are looking at ways to expand breast cancer screenings for women.
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it's a good day. >> it won't surprise you that mitt romney found something of interest in this controversy. here he is tonight on the minnesota radio show the scott henin show responding to komen's decision of last week and the reversal. >> should susan g. komen's plan for the cure in your view continue it to fund in my way planned parenthood? >> i don't think so. i think the government should cut off funding to planned parenthood. the idea we're sub sid diesing an institution providing abortion in my view is wrong. planned parenthood should stand on its own feet and not get government subsidy. >> cecile, what's your response to mitt romney? >> mitt romney has abandoned women completely in the campaign. not only he says he doesn't want any pooeventive care provided at planned parenthood. we see 3 million patients every year, and the majority of them for preventative care.
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he said he wants to end the entire national family planning program that provides not only birth control to 5 million women every year but cancer screenings, pap smears, and the like. it's really depressing, frankly, to see this race to the bottom by the republican presidential candidates, and i think it's going to be an issue in the campaign. i think what we saw last week and the really -- really the explosion on facebook and twitter and women concerned about the cancer screenings at planned parenthood and the ability to continue. we see going into the election, there's been a race to the bottom again on attacks on women's health care access, and i think folks are saying enough is enough. >> cecile, when this broke out last week, i was in new york and everybody i was talking to outside of the show, friends of planned parenthood and the komen foundation were outraged by in the. i've been in los angeles throughout this weekend and
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today, and i can tell you in los angeles your friends of planned parenthood and friends of komen still outraged. there have been predictions that i've been hearing from people who are heavily involved in the funding of both of these organizations saying that they don't believe that komen has long-term survivability now as a foundation. >> well, i certainly hope that's not true, lawrence. look, i think what this was all about is that i think it was folks standing up and saying we can't let bullies bully the komen foundation and force them to, you know, quit working with planned parenthood just like we can't let bullies now trying to fight against the president's coverage of birth control in the new insurance plans. they went aafter planned parenthood in congress and after the komen foundation and now they say women shouldn't get birth control coverage in insurance plans. this is a time where women and men and young people are
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standing up and saying this is a war on wem's health care and it has to end. again, i look forward to working with the komen foundation and we have the same mission to make sure women get pooeventive health care in america. we need to do more to solve problems and less of this sort of putting politics in front of -- in lieu of giving women access to health care. >> cecile richards, you have my nomination for american ambassador to the united nations. your artful diplomacy and how you handled yourself in this relationship with your former partner who is again your partner the komen foundation is something to behold. thank you very much for joining me tonight. joins me now is the senior writer nor "newsweek" and the daily beast, michelle goldberg. we saw resignations last week at the komen foundation. now the question is, are there going to be firings? what happens next, and can
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handel survive? >> i think there should be firings, although when you look at a lot of reporting out of the komen foundation, they don't get it. they think they can do if in a nonpolitical way. nobody would notice they were cutting off planned parenthood under the guise of this new rule about investigations. they still seem to feel somewhat victimized. i think if handel resigned, that would do a lot to mend the fences of the many, many women and men who have been big supporters of komen and felt so incredibly betrayed by the way this organization ostensibly devoted to women's health steps forward to justify some of the most radical attacks on women's health. >> i want to read you one board member who is a democratic lobbyi lobbyist, which is not unxhn. said this to the huffington
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post. we screwed up. we owe people in the middle that only care about breast cancer and raised money for us an apology. how should that apology be delivered? does this call for a direct mail piece to go out to komen contributors saying basical that, we made a mistake? >> i don't know exactly how you need to communicate that you made a mistake, but the best way to communicate that you made a mistake is not just to say it buzz to make sure that these partnerships continue. these partnerships are not just something that is done out of political correctness. if you look at nancy brinker's memoirs she wrote in 2010, she talked about what a crucial role planned parenthood made in getting screenings to women in poor neighborhoods and rural neighborhoods and neighborhoods not served by any other infrastructure. it seems to me the best way to make it dleer that they made a
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mistake and they support these services is to keep supporting these services. >> i've been told by some heavy hitters in the funding and the fund-raising for cancer foundations including the komen foundation that they don't believe that the komen foundation will exist five years from now because of this. if simply will not carry on. >> you know, like cecile said, i actually hope that's not true, because i think that komen does important work. as long as this is kind of a single aberration. it's clear they have hurt themselves. i don't think anybody has done so much damage to a brand in so short of time. they'll probably study this in marketing courses 20 years from now, but i don't think it's the kind of thing they can't recovery from if they make it clear this was a mistake and they're serious about recommitting to the mission of supporting women's health. >> thank you very much for joining us tonight. >> thanks so much. >> coming up the republican
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senate candidate hired a chinese actress to mock her own culture and to produce what is now the worst campaign ad of this season. there is a simple way to end exactly that kind of ugly advertising. hollywood has a responsibility here. that's next in the rewrite. later, why president obama is polling way ahead just impossibly ahead of republicans on foreign policy. that's coming up. the two trains and a bus rider. the "i'll sleep when it's done" academic. for 80 years, we've been inspired by you. and we've been honored to walk with you to help you get where you want to be. ♪ because your moment is now. let nothing stand in your way. learn more at keller.edu. gomery and letabigail higgins had... way. ...a tree that bore the most rare and magical fruit.
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child and of course bigger heads and gardens. [ coughs ] what is this shorty? uh, tissues sir, i'm sick. you don't cough, you don't show defeat. give me your war face! raaah! [ male announcer ] halls. a pep talk in every drop. with less chronic osteoarthritis pain. imagine living your life with less chronic low back pain. imagine you, with less pain. cymbalta can help. cymbalta is fda-approved to manage chronic musculoskeletal pain. one non-narcotic pill a day, every day, can help reduce this pain. tell your doctor right away if your mood worsens, you have unusual changes in mood or behavior or thoughts of suicide. antidepressants can increase these in children, teens, and young adults. cymbalta is not approved for children under 18. people taking maois or thioridazine or with uncontrolled glaucoma should not take cymbalta. taking it with nsaids, aspirin,
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ours get very good. we take your jobs. thank you. >> now, usually political ads that are this ugly and stupid are not technically traceable to a candidate. that's what super-pacs are for, but this ad ends with this. >> i'm pete spend it not ruck stra, and i approved this message. >> he has deservedly been getting a lot of heat for this ad, which ran yesterday during the super bowl in michigan where he's running for senate. even bill o'reilly didn't like it. >> she's speaking broken english, which is, of course, a cliche. yeah, i don't think if that's a smart thing to do. >> some of in his own party think he crossed a line with racial steer yo types and nativism. nativism is an odd bent for someone who is not himself a native-born american. he was born in the netherlands
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and came to this country with his family when he was a child. we don't know where the actress was born who seems to be happily personifying the racial stereotype that he wants to deliver in the ad, but hoekstra has said that her parents are in his words 100% chinese. but hoekstra will not reveal the name of the actress or how much she was paid to mock the people of china. i'd like to interview the actress who appeared in this commercial. i'd like to know exactly what she was thinking when she did it and why she did it. the ad was shot in a sunny california valley by fred davis, the same man who brought us this political ad. >> i'm not a witch. i'm nothing you've heard. >> it's one thing for people hoekstra to buy 30 seconds of television time to tell us if if he can in clear english muster
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that clear english what troubles him about this country's relationship with china, but it is quite another for him to hire an actor to do his dirty work for him. and that is what can be up stopped, and it can be stopped right now tonight by a pledge of simple decency that all of us members of the screen actors guild and aftra can make. raise your right hand, actors and repeat after me. i will not play dirty politics. that means that you will not play a character in political ads that tell lies. you will not appear in political ads that cast you to play a racial stereotype. now, i know the pressure's on out of work actors. i've been in many conversations with many actors here in los angeles and in new york who worry that the terrible part
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that they're being offered to play just might be the last part that they're ever offered to play. so they have to take that part to pay the rent or to keep qualifying for sag health insurance. i once talked someone out of playing hitler's daughter. no, hitler never had a daughter, but in this crazy movie script he did. of course, hitler's daughter eventually became president of the united states. i helped the actress considering that part of hitler's daughter by asking, if this is the last part you ever play, do you really want it to be the last part you ever play? if you're not a star, show business is a really tough way to make a living. you never know where your neck paycheck is coming from and you don't know what you have to do to get that paycheck. the actress who played this part was probably paid no more than $800, maybe $1,000 for her half
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day's work. she's going to get very little or possibly no residuals at all for that ad being played locally in michigan. it's not the kind of work that can help her career. there is no way the criticism that she is enduring tonight is worth it to her financially. no way. to the actress who made this mistake, i'd like to share the rule that i and all of my friends in showbusiness have lived by. i've done things in show business, in my case writing jobs here and there, that i am not proud of, but i've never done anything that i'm ashamed of. the best part of any great meal?
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delicious gourmet gravy. and she agrees. with fancy feast gravy lovers, your cat can enjoy the delicious, satisfying taste of gourmet gravy every day. fancy feast. the best ingredient is love. my dad and grandfather spent their whole careers here. [ charlie ] we're the heartbeat of this place, the people on the line. we take pride in what we do. when that refrigerator ships out the door, it's us that work out here. [ michael ] we're on the forefront of revitalizing manufacturing. we're proving that it can be done here, and it can be done well. [ ilona ] i come to ge after the plant i was working at closed after 33 years. ge's giving me the chance to start back over. [ cindy ] there's construction workers everywhere. so what does that mean? it means work. it means work for more people. [ brian ] there's a bright future here, and there's a chance to get on the ground floor of something big, something that will bring us back. not only this company, but this country. ♪
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it's 3:00 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep, but there's a phone in the white house and it's ringing. something's happening in the world. your vote will decide who answers that call. >> that was the famous 2008 democratic primary ad challenging barack obama's ability to handle the 3:00 a.m. phone call. that ability is no longer in doubt. the new "washington post" abc news poll shows that president obama has solid support as the guy america wants on our end of the 3:00 a.m. phone call. when asked, do you -- who do you trust to handle international affairs, president obama has a 17--point advantage over mitt romney, 55-38. when asked who do you trust to handle terrorism the democratic president has the same advantage
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over mitt romney, 54-38. joining me now is steve clemmons, the washington editor at large for the atlantic. he's a senior fellow at the new america foundation. steve, it sounds like this weekend may have had one or two 3:00 a.m. phone calls. in syria today the u.s. embassy was closed. president bahama ordered it closed in damascus. it's not just bad news for the world eyre difficult day in the white house, but it's in campaign terms and political terms very bad news for those republican presidential candidates who don't seem to know how to fwauk this sort of thing. >> not many of them are challenging the president on his record of going after in succeed inning killing osama bin laden ordeali dealing with issues out there. when you hear mitt romney opposing the downsizes of forces
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in afghanistan or the steps the president has taken in iraq, what you see obama doing is what elsd he would do which is basically moving into these places and stabilizing iraq and afghanistan and i've been critical say we're hemorrhaging money and military men and women and you need to downsize that and remind the world we will achieve what we say we can do. this is what we've been trying to find a handle to get barack obama at, but he's too good the at tracking down terrorists and rebalancing the american strategic forces. >> steve, after a season of having to listen to republican presidential campaigners on debate stages saying how eager they are to bomb iran, i'd like our audience to get a chance to listen to their president discussing with matt lauer what he's thinking about in relation to iran these days. >> we have done extensive planning over the last several years about all our various options in the gulf, and you
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know, we are prepared to exercise these options should the need arise, but my goal is to try to resolve this diplomatically maining because the only way over the long turn we can ensure iran doesn't get a nuclear weapon is by getting them tontd it's not in their interest. >> steve, my goal is to restovl this diplomatically. that's the sentence that does not appear in republican candidate debate prep apparently. >> i think what republicans are doing is they think it plays well to do what dick cheney did is to fear monger to scare americans to think if you bomb the other guy, if you bomb, bomb iran that somehow this will play well. that's what curtis lee may did. that's what this knucklehead kind of approach to foreign policy is. what barack obama has shown is that he can simultaneously deal with countries like russia and china and pushing reset with key
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strategic relations while at the same time going after bin laden, other terrorists and trying to figure this out. with iran what he's doing is saying, as he did today, he tightened the sanctions in iran, but he's kept open the door and said if iran shifts its behavior, drops its nuclear program and potentially its weapons intentions, that it will be welcomed into the international community. so he's using the clock to demonstrate very much like a football game we just watched, the super bowl. he's using the clock to figure out what plays to move the world and the united states and it's allies into a better play and to give iran some choices other than being locked in a corner. if we saw mitt romney given what we know from him right now, there wouldn't be any nuance. we would see something much more direct, and i think you would see an utter collapse in the confidence of the rest of the world in the united states in dealing with these problems. >> can't wait for a general election debate devoted

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